New baking mystery with character interview: Cake and Punishment

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In the first of a delectable new Southern-set baking cozy series, Sophia Cummings, pastry chef extraordinaire, must craft the perfect cake for an old friend’s wedding while sifting through the suspects in a murder.
Bucolic Rumford, Kentucky has glowing fields of bluegrass, a fine selection of bourbons, and now a professional pastry chef. Broken-hearted Sophia Cummings has come home from New York City. She’s not there a minute before she’s charmed into making her high school friend Charlotte’s wedding cake. The kitchen at the Rumford Country Club seems perfect until Chef Emile’s body is discovered, sprawled near the stove, a cast iron skillet on the floor close by.With one look at the shiny, new frying pan, Sophia knows it’s not Emile’s. She offers her knowledge to Sheriff Carter and her talents to Evelyn, the manager, who needs an interim chef. The mood in the country club is grim: Emile’s peppery personality had burned members and staff alike. Sophia wonders which one of them burned him?

Character Interview: Sophia Cummings

Sophia, welcome to Island Confidential! I understand baking has been more than just a hobby for you. Would you like to elaborate? 

I’ve been baking since I was a little girl. It was one thing that I had to myself that my mama, Bitsy, never liked to do. I started to use it as a way to get out from under her thumb because she wanted to put me in pageants, join the junior league and all sorts of clubs southern mamas dream of their daughters doing. I’m no debutante, so I think I used baking as a way to get back at her, which turned out to be my greatest accomplishment.

Which character in Cake and Punishment do you get along with the best?

Definitely Carter. Since I’ve been home, I’ve kinda gotten close to him and happy to say that he’s grown into a man from the scrawny boy I knew in high school. Plus, I might have a small attraction to him.

Is there anyone you don’t get along with so well?

Hhmmm…Bitsy. I love my mama. I do. But…she’s still has a hard time wrapping her head around the fact that I’m not going to be a homemaker. Plus she thinks I’m going to stay in Rumford, listen, I’m only here for a couple of weeks. That’s it.

Just between you and me: What do you really think of your author, Maymee Bell?

I rolled my eyes so hard when she told me that she’d enrolled in a baking and decorating class. She’s great at cooking, but baking….man oh man. I was impressed with some things she was able to do in class and really give her credit, but she needs to leave the baking to me.

What’s next for you?

I guess you’ll have to see!

About the Author

Maymee Bell is the pen name of USA Today Bestselling author Tonya Kappes. She lives in Kentucky with her family and her two schnauzers. She likes strong coffee, slow-country days, and fresh-baked cookies – but she like telling stores best of all. This is her first SOUTHERN BAKER MYSTERY. Be sure to check out Tonya’s website for upcoming events and news and to sign up for her newsletter!

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New Quilting Mystery and character interview: Knot What You Think

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The newest member of Martha’s close-knit quilting circle has an eye for couture. But when the designer’s fingerprints are found blanketing a crime scene, Martha must prove that he didn’t have a hand in homicide!

Martha Rose is alarmed by the discovery of Dolleen Doyle’s dead body, especially when evidence suggests a fellow quilter committed the crime. Set on clearing her pal, Martha searches for answers—but with ties to a convicted fraudster’s stolen millions and a secret office room, the victim’s past raises even more questions. As Martha inches towards the culprit, she learns that wrapping the case up—and living to baste another square—will be trickier than she ever imagined . . .

Character Interview with Yossi Levy

Aloha Yossi, and thank you for stopping by Island Confidential. Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

YL: My name is Yossi Levy, but my friends all call me Crusher. I got that name because of some undercover work I did in the ATF. A paramilitary group was planning to blow up the Federal building on Wilshire Boulevard in LA. They used a construction company as cover. Anyway, I managed to infiltrate. My job was to operate a big machine that crushed rocks into gravel, and the name stuck.

I met my girlfriend Martha Rose while I was running an op out of a bike shop in Reseda, posing as the leader of the Valley Eagles biker gang.  We were after some local skells selling stolen military ordinance to terrorists overseas. We were so dark, even the LAPD didn’t know who we were.

A civilian who was doing some technical work for us got accused of murder. Martha was his neighbor. That’s how I met her.

Who’s the character you get along with the best?

YL: You know, I’d like to say Martha, but the truth is, she’s hard to pin down. I want to get married, but she’s afraid to commit. The guy I really like is her Uncle Isaac. He’s an 80-year-old scholar.

I grew up in an Orthodox Jewish home in New York, and although I’m not strictly observant anymore, I still keep a lot of the traditions.  I didn’t go to public school. I studied in a private Yeshiva. That’s a school which focuses on learning Jewish sacred texts. I loved that stuff. Now I look forward to discussions with Isaac when we celebrate the Sabbath together.

Which other character do you have a conflict with? 

YL: Are you kidding? Beavers! LAPD Detective Arlo Beavers. He was Martha’s boyfriend when I first met her. Then he cheated on her. That’s when I saw my chance and took it. The dude still comes sniffing around, hoping to win her back. But I can’t blame him. Martha is one sassy woman; smart and sexy.

Just between you and me: What do you really think of your author?

YL: Mary Marks? She’s one spunky old gal. She didn’t publish her first book until she was 70 years old. Now she’s 74 and publishing her fifth murder mystery. One word for her is eccentric. She used to have gray hair. Now it’s turquoise and purple. She also pierced her nostril. And, I hear she plans to go skydiving on her 75th birthday.

What’s next for you?

Well, I’m staying in the ATF for now. And I really want to get married. I’ll just have to wait until Martha is convinced I won’t abandon her. Isaac is helping me with that. 

About the Author

Born and raised in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, Mary Marks earned a B.A. in Anthropology from UCLA and an M.A. in Public Administration from the American Jewish University in Los Angeles. In 2004 she enrolled in the UCLA Extension Writers Program.

Her first novel, Forget Me Knot, was a finalist in a national writing competition in 2011. She is currently a reviewer of cozy mysteries for The New York Journal of Books at

Readers can visit her at and

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